Josh Geer, 26, beat all his detractors, earning the 2008 Madfriars.com Pitcher of the Year in San Antonio after going 16-6 and being one of the main reasons the Missions won the Texas League Championship.
Last year, he struggled in the hitter’s paradise known as the Pacific Coast League before being called up to San Diego and finishing 2-1 in five starts.
This year, Geer’s big problem has been allowing the big hit, the 27 home runs which he has yielded, easily the most on the team. With a 1-7 record and a 5.96 ERA, he hasn’t had a good year, but there has been some bright spots. In nine of his 17 starts, he has allowed three runs or less but only has one victory to show in those contests against two losses and six no-decisions.
He’s not going to be a top of the rotation starter, but he has a chance to develop into a back of the rotation innings eater. Its just a question if he will be able to make another adjustment.
Last time I interviewed you was in DC at the end of September when you had just been called up. Now you have more experience under your belt, what are the things you are starting to see?
Josh Geer: I’m starting to get a good read on seeing hitters. At this level, you can’t leave mistakes up or they really take advantage of it. Last year, I had five starts and I gave up one or two home runs and this year I’ve given up too many. I’m starting to see major league hitters make adjustments within their at-bats, and that is just not something that I have seen before.
Making all these starts back-to-back is also giving me a chance to make adjustments on things that I need to do.
We’ve talked about that in the past, your ability to use the advance scouting that they have on the major league level. The way you pitch it seems to be much more of an advantage for you because you throw sinkers about 80 percent of the time, out, in and mostly down. Since you make adjustments on the fly, doesn’t it really help you much more?
Josh Geer: I think it is. They usually have a hole in their swing, inside or outside and you can see where you can throw it. Of course, I am in and out, up and down with different speeds. I try to watch pitchers that throw like me and see what they do too. I try to stay with my game plan.
You’ve given up some home runs this year and that seems to be mainly what has hurt you, giving up the big hit. How much does it frustrate you that you have pitched pretty well with that big exception? For example, if you throw 100 pitches, and 92 are where you want them, you can still get beat.
Josh Geer: The home runs kill you. I’ll give up the base hits because they aren’t putting runs on the board. That is what has hurt me in the past that I have gotten too aggressive and hung some pitches. If I can limit the home runs, I should be all right; and I am really working on it.
I used to joke with you on the difference between you being the pitcher of the month or in the disappointment columns was about six inches up. Is that where the home runs have come from, missing up?
Josh Geer: Probably about half and half, if you want to miss, you want to miss down because you can’t get hurt as much. But most of them are missing up or hanging in their bat path, which is the key to allowing the home runs.
Is it tough to go back inside after giving up the home runs, because you have said before that is the key to your success, along with other pitchers, of making the batters respect both sides of the plate?
Josh Geer: When I give up a home run, I don’t dwell on it or get pissed off. You have to go back and stay aggressive and go after the inside of the plate to open up the outside, because that is where I like to work.
Kevin Towers said that is one of your strongest traits, the ability to bounce back and limit the damage.
Josh Geer: You still have to go out and do your job. I try to put in the back of my mind and try to still stay aggressive.
When you come up here so much of the minors is about getting into a groove physically, but when you come up here there is so much information available on scouting, reports, charts and video. How do you get into the right routine of using the information that can help you and not overload you?
Josh Geer: I’ve gotten into a good routine and being in a set rotation helps me. There is so much information in scouting reports and I’ve gotten to a point where I try to just look at certain stuff or else it will be too much.
Going forward what are you trying to do to improve?
Josh Geer: I’m trying to stay on top of my pitches and keep the ball down. Too many times my fastball has been flat, and its not helping me. I do feel that I can pitch at this level, but I just have to keep the ball down and keep hitters off balance.
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